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[728] concourse of these fugitives in Washington had given rise. This city was governed by slave laws, and the local authorities, although mostly appointed by Mr. Lincoln's government, were devoted to the maintenance of the servile institution. Conformably to these laws, every man of color was liable to be seized, imprisoned and given up to any pretended owner who came forward to claim him, if he could not prove his identity as a free man on the evidence of a white citizen. The police of the capital had found a source of shameful profit in the application of these laws. Fugitives seeking the protection of the Federal flag were arrested; and as these unfortunate creatures could find no one to testify in their favor, they were handed over to accomplices, who sold them immediately, dividing the proceeds of such sale with the police. While waiting for this sad fate, the colored men, thus arrested at random, were subjected to the worst kind of treatment. The Senate passed a resolution ordering them to be set at liberty en masse. The government hastened to obey this mandate; and, on the very day the resolution was passed, Mr. Seward ordered General McClellan to extend the protection of the military power to all fugitives, notifying the civil authorities that they should no longer be allowed to arrest them.

The discussions provoked by the interference of the military in the treatment of fugitives brought up the whole question of the fugitive slave law, the application of which was so obnoxious to the people of the North. But this law could not be directly attacked without seriously compromising the loyalty of the border States, which, although slave States, had not broken the Federal compact, and whose hostility would have been fatal to the cause of the Union. Consequently, after some fruitless debates upon propositions which were too radical to be adopted at that time, the House of Representatives and the Senate merely instructed, on the 20th and 26th of December, their respective judiciary committees to prepare modifications of the law so as to require the owner of the fugitive slave to produce evidence of his loyalty to the Federal government prior to its being applied. The Senate passed, moreover, a resolution ratifying the decisions of the government, and declaring that it was not the province of the

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